Tasmanian poet Liz McQuilkin's first poetry collection is The Nonchalant Garden (Walleah Press, 2014). Liz lives in Hobart.
"The nonchalant blossoming face of a summer garden belies the work going on below its lovely surface. So it is with the poems in Liz Quilkin's first collection, 'The Nonchalant Garden'. They flower from her sharp-eyed intelligent noticing, a fine ear, a caring but not uncritical heart, subversive humour, and above all, a life lived reflectively and responsibly, taking nothing for granted."
Maureen Scott Harris
"This collection should be stamped AUTHENTIC! MADE IN TASMANIA! Liz McQuilkin's life-long love of the island permeates her poetry, whether she's writing of domestic cirumstances or the natural world. Like Tassie weather itself - thunderclouds, rainbows and clear blue skies - these poems are wonderfully varied, illuminating the complexities of existence with wit and wisdom and grace."
Liz's second collection, (with Karen Knight), is Renovating Madness (Karen Knight and Liz McQuilkin. Walleah Press, 2018).
The history of the treatment of mental illness is a story of neglect and ignorance, resilience and rebellion, and, in the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century, outright cruelty. There is much to be learnt from that history. This poignant and provocative collection is a maverick biography of an institution established in New Norfolk in Tasmania in 1827, finally closing in 2001. The poems, narratives, reflections, records past and present collude to create powerful reminders of forgotten or forsaken lives and the impetus to treat mental illness with compassion and open-mindedness.
What is the shape of madness? Is it a signature element within a Tasmanian imaginary? Read this book and you will have your answer. Here are poems that shed an uncompromising light on that other and lesser known island shame, the institution I grew up calling ‘the loony bin’. Here are poems brave and scintillating, poems edged in frost, raw poems that take not one backward step, poems that showcase the literary verve of two of the island’s most original and accomplished talents. Knight and McQuilkin have given us a book about ‘the bruising shout of power’. It demands to be read.
Link—Liz McQuilkin's poetry collection Unwrapping Clouds (Forty South Publishing, Jan 2022).
In Unwrapping Clouds, the past isn’t a thing mined but rather gently sifted through, coaxing gems of memory to the surface of now. Whether describing the delicate, fading whorls of seashells or the blunt force of human loss, Liz McQuilkin’s regard for all life is genuine and joyful, tinged with but never overshadowed by sorrow. Ever the optimist, her sense of humour is wry and sometimes mischievous. Through a love of words and wordplay we are invited to share in this poet’s delight in the natural world and its inhabitants. Above all, we are encouraged to participate.
Liz McQuilkin has Mary Oliver’s ability to show us ordinary, yet extraordinary, moments in the natural and human worlds. I love her sharing of reflective moments, and her pellucid, deeply moving observations on births, deaths, and the journeying between.
To see the author in conversation with David Mason, former Poet Laureate of Colorado (now living in Tasmania), click UNWRAPPING CLOUDS VIDEO LAUNCH at Hobart Bookshop.